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O'Keeffe and Fitzgerald share Novice Riders Title

O'Keeffe and Fitzgerald share Novice Riders Title

(Sean O'Keeffe and Shane Fitzgerald accepting their award from Alan Sweetman)

Racing Post Novice- Sean O'Keeffe and Shane Fitzgerald

This was one of the tightest titles of the season with all to play for going into the final weekend.

The Novice Rider title provided plenty of drama over the course of the final weeks of last season, with the showdown between Shane Fitzgerald and Liam Quinlan only being decided on the final weekend of the campaign. Shane had initially won it by 13-12.

O’Hanrahan’s Bridge, who provided Fitzgerald with one of his crucial two winners at Kinsale last year, was later disqualified following a hearing at the Turf Club.

This ensured that both Shane Fitzgerald and Liam Quinlan ended the season on 12-winners, and were joint-winners of the Racing Post Novice Rider award.

This season on the opening day at Castletown-Geoghegan, three novice riders rode their first winners (Adam Feeney, Michael O’Sullivan and Ben Love).

This is Sean O’Keeffe’s third year riding and his best to date. He rode his first winner at Grennan in 2016 aboard Tinacurra and this season had 11 winners from 59 rides. O’Keeffe also had his first track winner at Punchestown in October for Liz Doyle and enjoyed a further two track winners over the spring.

Sean went in front in the title after the third weekend in March and led 7-6 over Shane. He then stayed in front until the final weekend where he was two winners ahead of Shane. The Cork native then rode a winner at Kinsale and Ballingarry which brought them to 11 winners each to share the novice title.

O’Keeffe rode winners for eight different handlers with three winners being provided by Denis Hickey.

This is Shane Fitzgerald’s fourth year riding and his second best to date having ridden 11 winners from 96 rides.

Fitzgerald, who had his first Cheltenham festival ride aboard the Suzy Smith-trained Clondaw Cian in the 4-mile National Hunt Chase this year, had his best support from Mick Goff who supplied him with nine winners.

Of his 31 career wins, he has guided 21 four-year-old maidens to victory, nine five-year-old maidens and one older maiden. He has yet to win a winners race or an open lightweight.

Five novice riders finished up with five winners this season- Shane Baragry, Timmy Love, Daire McConville, Michael O’Sullivan and Liam Quinlan.
This title has produced plenty of high profile jockeys which include the likes of Adrian Maguire, Timmy Murphy, Davy Russell, Derek O’Connor and Barry O’Neill.

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